“Chicken Lady” vendor flocks to O.C. following Sunset Junction cancellation

Photo by Arnold Inuyaki/Flickr

Go to almost any Los Angeles area community fair and festival and you will find them:  Asian-style grilled chicken and chicken skewers. The flavors and styles –  Thai BBQ, Chinese, Japanese and  Filipino – are sold by a variety of mom and pop vendors as well as restaurants.  It was no different at the Sunset Junction festival, where sweaty music fans had more grilled and barbecued chicken choices than they could shake a sticky skewer at.  Of course, with the festival now cancelled, all those other vendors have to find a place to ago.  On Thursday,  Gloria Sohacki, who works at Central City Action Committee, an Angeleno Heights nonprofit that works with youth and runs a graffiti clean up crew, spent part of her day helping out one of those Sunset Junction vendors that Sohacki has dubbed the “Chicken Lady.”  The woman, a Thai immigrant whose first name is Sae, had paid $1,300 for a Sunset Junction festival booth and had ordered about  $2,000 worth chicken and other supplies to sell at this weekend’s event.  “Not only is she out the money for the booth but she has already spent money on the product she would have been selling,” Sohacki said.

Sohacki said Sae has been a familiar face at Central City, where she used to send her two children and then provided some of her chicken for some center events. Sohacki and others at the center nicknamed Sae the “Chicken Lady.”  In recent years,  Sohacki has helped Sae, whose English skills are limited,  fill out and submit complicated festival applications and health department forms required of food vendors.  Sae submitted her Sunset Junction application and $1,300  fee back in April, Sohacki said.  On Thursday afternoon, Sae managed to talk to a Sunset Junction organizer who told her the staff would meet and start working on refunds next week. Despite talk of a refund, Sae was still on the hook for the $2,000 worth of food and supplies she had bought for the festival. What to do?

After calling around, Sae found that she might be able to get into another festival. After Sohacki helped fill out and submit the paperwork, Sae’s application was approved. So, this weekend, instead of dishing out Thai and Chinese food in Silver Lake, The Chicken Lady will be found in La Palma at Orange County’s Amazing Thai Festival.


  1. Events & Fairs R Us

    Not only is the Chicken Lady out of a job for the weekend, but other vendors like myself are also. In today’s economy funds are tough to come by, with the cancelation of Sunset Junction this will make things ever harder for my business as for the others. Word has it that we will get our booth rent back but we will not be able to recoup the dollars we were expecting to make this weekend. I also feel for those who were in security, ticket booths, bands and other paid positions that will not receive a paycheck for this weekend. It would have been nice if the City would have taken this into consideration! City of Los Angeles “I am not a fan of yours”. I am in hopes that Sunset Junction will be honest and return our booth rental since things have been cancelled.

  2. The city that your “not a fan of” has been getting raped by Michael McKinley to the tune of about 400k. Place your blame on him.

  3. Events & Fairs R Us is right, it really sucks and everyone is hurt by the cancellation. However, the blame is not with the city. The blame lies with the Sunset Junction Neighborhood Alliance for renting booths, selling tickets and booking bands before he had a permit to actually hold an event.

    Last year there was the a similar fight over the Sunset Junction’s special event permit which should have been a warning to all vendors and participants in the festival that things were fishy. It sucks but blame Michael McKinley for taking your money (and thereby screwing everyone) before paying his past bills and, imagine that, actually getting permission to hold a festival on city streets.

  4. Sad for her and and for you as well- Events.
    Though I am not a champion of our local government, I have to admit they did the right thing. Place the blame with the SJ Festival organization. Their mismanagement and lack of payment for LAST years festival caused this.

  5. I can empathize with Events & Fairs R Us’ pain and frustration, but the tough decision made by the Bureau of Public Works was brought about by years of imperious mismanagement by the festival’s organizers. That maybe no consolation, but if anyone should have taken into consideration the hardships the event’s cancellation would cause the people relying on it — be they vendor, staff, talent or benefiting organizations– it’s the fest’s leadership, and the city was long overdue in finally holding them accountable.

  6. Ominously, the SJNA website was taken down (hmm…) so vendors have no way to reach them.

    But the SJNA runs the Silver Lake Farmer’s Market on Saturdays in the Sunset Junction – so Chicken Lady and other vendors seeking refunds should just go to the Farmer’s Market and talk to Edwin who is Michael McKinley’s right hand man.

    Or they can try to reach McKinley himself in Tahiti…

  7. $1,300 for a Sunset Junction festival booth! what a disgrace the Sunset Junction organizers are.

  8. Actually, Sae “chicken lady” got a hold of Edwin (she called him Kevin) and on speaker phone I heard him say something about Farmers Market to raise funds to pay back people. He went on to tell her that the money sent in for the booth had been spent on hotels, food and airfares. When I heard him say that I went ballistic and called The Eastsiderla as I felt it was a story to be told. thanks, Jesus!

  9. The City should invest a few of the dollars it will not have to lose in providing services to the Sunset Junction event in a large legal push to make “the Fair” refund all fees paid by people who expected to participate as vendors or attendees, as well as reimbursing those folk for all other sums invested and then lost when the promised event did not happen. It was the organizers’ responsibility to meet their obligations to the city and they didn’t. LA should force them to shell out the past due $$ they owe the city as well reimbursing vendors for losses taken because of the weekend that wasn’t.
    Tired of profiteers who endlessly wine and dine themselves while everyone else wonders how to make ends meet.

  10. What Edwin says should not be considered factual as we all know that as of Monday Michael McKinley had a check of at least $50,000. and that cash has not been used for hotels/airfares (for whom – Michael McKinley fleeing to India?) That cash should immediately go to refunds for vendors/ticket buyers.

    This story is not over yet. The rest of the city of LA is now seeing the truth behind this fair’s orgainers. And where are the SJNA non-profit’s “Board” members?

  11. Also, Michael McKinley testified at the Board of Public Works meetings that the money the Street Fair raised went to support the SJNA’s activities for the rest of the year… including THE FARMER’S MARKET.

    So how can Edwin claim that now the Farmer’s Market – which was supposedly a money-losing beneficiary of the STREET FAIR – is the main engine to raise funds to refund vendors & ticket buyers?

    Clearly, the shameless SJNA is trying to keep the Farmer’s Market income rolling in while stiffing the vendors & ticket buyers.

    The SL Farmer’s Market permit needs to be turned over to a new organization.

  12. How are people not questioning why LA is charging 200,000 dollars for 2 days? Seriously? Crooked Politicans are to blame as well and maybe foremost.

  13. Let’s let Michael do the right thing, I am sure he will refund everyone’s money for booths and tickets. That is of course if he did not spend it on all his good deeds he does for the community. He probably put the advance ticket sales in a “lock box” and it is safe for all, just in case.

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